The U.S. Air Force relies on a large number of civilians to take care of technical matters and depot (heavy duty) maintenance of aircraft. At the end of the Cold War, the air force has 260,000 civilian employees. In the past eleven years, that workforce has been cut nearly 40 percent (some 100,000 people.) Much work was turned over to contractors, but because of labor regulations, most of the cuts came from younger workers. By 2005, some 45 percent of the remaining civilians will be eligible for retirement. The booming economy has made it difficult for the air force to recruit civilians with skills equal to those of the older people retiring. Nevertheless, attempts are being made to hire over 20,000 new workers a year. It is likely that the new hires will not have anything near the capabilities of the older and more experienced workers leaving. This will lead to lower productivity. In terms of combat capability, this will mean lower availability of warplanes.